It seems to be in our nature to look for and accept, with little challenge, evidence that confirms what we already believe. A phenomenon named “Confirmation Bias”. It is the tendency to search for, interpret, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is even stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched ideas. Confirmation biases contributes to overconfidence in one’s personal beliefs and will maintain and strengthen one’s beliefs even in the face of contrary evidence.
There are some areas of our lives that allow us to utilize the confirmation bias to your advantage. If the burner on the stove is red we do not need to touch it to see if is hot. Or knowing that we only having one chance to make a first impression and effect the bias of those we meet. The reason for this is confirmation bias. Being conscious of making a good first impression and working on doing it can be key to gaining success and happiness in your life.
To help avoid this confirmation bias trap, many years ago, the “Scientific Method” was brought into use. It involves making an assumption, then making predictions from the assumptions that seem logical to us. Then, instead of looking for what would confirm the assumptions to be correct, questions are asked and experiments are designed with the primary purpose of proving the predictions wrong. The exact opposite of how confirmation bias works. When a concept or fact cannot be proven wrong, there is a sound basis for accepting it as true.
How much wiser we would all be if we would, at the very least, hold a seed of doubt about our own opinions and be willing to listen to those who have a different point of view. There is no rule that says if you actually listen to someone, you then must agree with them and then must change your mind. In fact, it is also not a requirement that you must help other people with whom you do not agree, to change their way of thinking. Both parties can just listen and then ponder the two or more points of view. Two or more points of view can actually exist in this world as you can easily see.
If we accept that confirmation bias exists, and I am sure many will have a bias that it does not exist, and so will disregard these points, I believe one can gain much insight and wisdom. It is not the easy way, and as Longfellow said the path is “the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference”. How different we can be when we admit we have biases that may be wrong and that we should be questioning our own opinions that we hold so dear. We need to be alert in our thinking and listen openly to the ideas and opinions of others to become smarter and wiser
1 Recognize when we are shutting our minds to rely on the biases we hold.
2 Judge people by their present actions, and not on our biases that we formed about them in the past.
3 Stop relying on the same sources of media, and read books and articles about people and things of which we know little and can learn much.
4 Smarter and wiser are two important attributes that will take you far and make you happier in this world.